A Little Relationship Advice

When you’re asking for advice about a relationship topic, just about everyone else has something to say. Everyone’s been through at least one relationship and everyone’s had at least one good one and one bad one, whether we’re talking about family relationships or romantic relationships. If you’ve had the unfortunate experience to not have great relationships, getting advice from others is a good idea. If you’ve had a bunch of great relationships it’s still not a bad idea to get advice from others or talk with them about how they work through the issues in their relationships. Why? Because everyone is different and they handle problems differently, so even if you’ve dealt with a specific problem before dealing with it with someone else will go differently. As well, situations change and life sometimes works differently and there are different other factors in play, so the way you’ve handled a situation in the past may not be able to be handled in the same way in the future, even if we’re talking about the same 2 people dealing with it.

Of course, just because you ask for or receive advice it doesn’t mean you have to apply it to your life, or apply all of it. And the lesson you learn from it may be a different lesson than they learned, or you may be able to apply it in a different way. I think a big part of the advice concept is the sharing of experiences and lessons. It’s not (just) about sharing how smart you are but about going through this journey called life together. Maybe they need to share the lesson more than you need to learn the lesson.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and someone will randomly share an experience with you, but other times you have to admit that you’re feeling lost and ask for help. It can be hard to ask for help, but that’s a big part of what relationships are here for. Relationships really exist to improve our lives, to challenge us at times, yes, but ultimately we should be better for the relationships we’ve had. Yes, there are always a few bad eggs, but that’s life, and it’s up to us to get out of those relationships before too much damage occurs.

So the next time someone offers some advice I encourage you to listen to it, and this week I encourage you to reach out to someone else and ask them for advice. You can ease into it with something small, but choose to get out there and build those relationships and learn from the people in your life.

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The Business of Summer

This week we had the beginning of summer! It’s my favorite season and I’m always happy when it gets here. As I sit here listening to rain pour down outside and feel the warmth in the air, I’m reminded of the challenges and opportunities businesses have each summer. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can take advantage of the summer in your business.

Work with the weather. The weather can discourage people from coming out and shopping or it can bring people out in droves depending on your business. If you’re one of those businesses that doesn’t benefit from the summer showers or hot days, those days can be a great opportunity for you to take to social media and email and send out special day-of discounts that your customers can take advantage of (and bring you business you would not have otherwise).

Work with visitors. Summer is one of the seasons that brings lots of visitors and travelers to different parts of the country. Having a “visiting” section of your website, a visitor’s guide in your business, and even offering special locally-inspired products are all great ways of introducing people not familiar with the local area to your business and the area as well as letting the out-of-town visitors know that you appreciate them and are glad they’re visiting.

Get smart with scheduling. Summer does shake things up a bit with lots of employees wanting time off and people interested in staying out later at night. So maybe it’s a good opportunity to change your hours to be open 5-6 days a week with extra extended hours. That gives your employees some time off and gives people a chance to come visit and shop at the hours they’re looking to do exactly that. Having those days off can also be great for doing a deep cleaning of your site, refreshing your website and marketing, taking some courses or doing some other types of educating or learning, and getting some good rest, too!

How will you make the most of your business this summer?

Relationships and Responsibilities

Sunday in the USA was Father’s Day and one of the things that always comes up when parenting is involved is the topic of responsibility. Some parents are great and very responsible towards the human or humans they brought into the world, but other people aren’t able or willing to care for them as they really should. I think we all have room to work on living up to our responsibilities, but when it comes to parenting it’s often easier to see the failures and we expect a lot more from people who have chosen to bring another life into the world. I don’t think people should have kids unless they’re really ready to be responsible for them, of course sometimes nature knows better than us though. As a parent you’ve got a responsibility to not only provide for the physical needs your kid(s) may have, but also the emotional and social ones as well.

But what I want to talk about today isn’t really about the responsibility of parenting (although it’s an important topic), what I wanted to talk about was the topic of responsibility in relationships of all kinds. Any time you choose to enter a relationship, whether a working relationship with a company or client, or personal relationship you have a responsibility towards that other person or any other people involved to be your best self as part of that relationship.

Whether you know it or not by choosing to enter a relationship with that other person or people (or company) you and they agreed on one or several things that you would bring to the table as part of that relationship. Maybe it’s as simple as agreeing to meet on a regular basis for drinks, maybe it’s choosing to be faithful to each other as long as you’re together, maybe it’s to provide a resource or type of support, maybe it’s to make sales, maybe it’s to help each other become the best you can both be, or maybe it’s to provide some type of care for them.

First of all, are you bringing your best self to all your relationships? Or are you letting the pressures of life distract you and slowly work at destroying that relationship? Second, are you living up to the responsibilities you have towards that other person or people? You went into that relationship with a purpose and maybe even a goal in mind, and some idea of the work that would be involved to make that relationship a success. Are you actively working on living up to that purpose, goal and/or work?

I believe the world is better for all the relationships we have, but we all have some work to do with regards to them and the responsibilities we each have. What will you do the rest of this week to work on better participating in your relationships and responsibilities?

A Great Dad

Today in the USA is Father’s Day. I can never understand what it means to be a father, but I’ve seen some not so great dads and some very great dads. So today I thought I’d share a few thoughts about what it takes to be a great dad.

Great dads begin with interest. Great dads are willing to listen to their kids, whether it’s sitting at the dinner table or on the phone as they drive home from their second job. They’re interested in knowing what is going on in their kids’ lives, and not just from a school grades or secondhand telling, but rather from the kids themselves. Whether the kids want to share about their make believe adventure they had that day, the video game level they’re on, or about the cute girl/boy at school, most kids have lots to say and are always looking for a willing ear to chatter to. You may not understand all of what they’re talking about, but that’s OK. What matters most is that you are showing them that you care about what’s going on in their life.

Great dads are willing to invest. Great dads make time to be part of their kids’ lives. Maybe that means standing in the back at a school play, staying until or arriving at halftime, doing homework, cooking together, or adventuring outdoors, but there are countless ways that dads can participate in their kid’s lives. Just about every kid I know would rather their dad show up for a little of their special performance or game, or do a little homework with them or read one book at night rather than not be there at all. Even that little effort can make a difference.

Great dads are honest teachers. I have met some really great dads, but I have yet to find a perfect one (since no one is perfect). Everyone messes up from time to time, and sometimes the disappointments aren’t because of something you had a lot of control over, no matter how hard you try. Kids can be wise beyond their years and are usually willing to forgive you if you have a good reason for them and don’t screw up in the same way more than a couple of times. Take time to explain to them what happened or why you’ve let them down (or why you are going to let them down). You don’t have to get into great details, but taking the time to explain things to them can make a big difference. Talking with them about how you navigate life’s challenges can be some of the most helpful lessons of their lives.

None of these things require dads to put lots of money on the table or be some superhero, but they do require dads to show up. The best thing you can do as a dad today (and everyday) is to be present for your kids.  What have you learned from the dads (and kids) in your life?

Challenged by Technology

Recently I’ve been reflecting on some of the challenges of being in business and being a customer as well. There are things we should be taking into consideration for regarding our customers and what we’re selling as well as how we’re communicating with them, especially regarding changes. This week I accidentally left my phone at home for a period of time which got me thinking about changes and the technology that’s so central to our lives now.

The first thing I was reminded of was the fact that there are and always will be changes happening. Sometimes changes happen that someone thinks is a really good idea but many customers hate, or the biggest issue isn’t the change, it’s the lack of communication about the upcoming change. Changes are a necessary and almost inevitable part of life and business but you can’t seriously make changes without notifying your users of those changes, especially if it’s something that may so (negatively) impact their business that they have to find a replacement.

The second thing I thought about was how instant our world has become. Technology has enabled us to connect within seconds with many parts of the world, whether we’re using email, phones, social media or messaging. It’s amazing and has so many benefits to offer the world from emergency situations to providing support and love even from many miles away. I’m not one of those people who sits at my computer all day and waits for an email so I can reply to it instantly. I do believe that we can (and should) have lives and not be attached to our devices 24/7. So maybe it’s a good thing if we all leave our devices home once in a while.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about ease of use. Technology in general does make it much easier to do so many things. But sometimes there are changes made or features added that make it harder to use the technology. There are also times when an update or upgrade is desperately needed but it’s not made (or the change that isn’t needed is the one that’s made). I think sometimes in our desire to be #1 or the most trendy or the one with the most features we forget about the people and how easy or difficult it is to use.

This week in your dealings with technology I encourage you to try something new with technology. Maybe you’ll find that the change isn’t as difficult as you thought it would be.

Start off Good

I was recently reminded that things don’t usually start off with problems and issues, they usually start of good and with peace. Relationships don’t begin with the end in mind, you are busy enjoying each other’s company. You don’t join a job thinking about how soon you’ll quit or be fired, you’re trying to do your best or make the most money possible. You don’t get a pet thinking about when they’ll die or run away, you’re excited to have a new best friend. You don’t buy a phone thinking about the next one you’ll get, you are excited for this one. You don’t start a business thinking you’ll sell it for big bucks or it’ll fail, you start off excited about providing a needed product or service with passion. I think you get the idea: almost always things begin for us on a good foot.

So what happens that things don’t work out as planned, fail, hurt and become screwed up? I think part of the issue is that we get overwhelmed by everything that goes on in life. It’s not really possible to avoid all that goes on in life, there are pressures that we’ll face and changes that we have no control over but impact us all the same. A big part of the issue though is we lose sight of the good that we started with. Yes, we will change as we go through our lives so it’s not about keeping everything the same or constantly reliving “the good old days”, but learning how to evolve the good we started with. The sooner you work on bringing those elements of good into your life and various situations on a consistent basis, the better everything will go. You’ll also be developing some really great habits that will help make your life more fulfilling and rewarding.

If you’re able to develop the habit and life skill of intentionally developing the good, it doesn’t mean that you won’t fail, have bad days, divorce, or experience loss; these things are part of life. But if you’ve got that core your likelihood and frequency of failure, bad days, divorce and some types of losses can dramatically decrease, and your overall happiness, fulfillment, and enjoyment of life can increase. How do you get started? For a relationship it could be as simple as sitting down with your significant other, talking about what you’ve enjoyed in the past and why you fell in love with each other and discuss how to bring those feelings and types of experiences to life on a more regular basis now, and actively working on incorporating those feelings, actions, words and experiences into your lives today. It’s not a magic pill but can certainly make some of those tough decisions and discussions a lot easier and smoother because you’re not worrying as much about the foundation and able to work on the actual, present, issues.

So let’s start the discussion: what did you really enjoy in your past that you don’t do or have or feel as much or at all anymore?

Relationship Give and Take

Healthy relationships should have give and take, you and your partner should both contribute in different ways to the relationship and your lives together, neither of you should be the only one putting in effort. If that’s the case then it’s definitely not a partnership and not really a relationship. Yes there will be times that you’re giving most of the effort at home while your partner does most of the working, and there will be times when the situation is reversed. It’s healthy for both of you to see both sides of the world, so that no one gets too comfortable and doesn’t appreciate what the other does.

As part of that give and take you and your partner need to be communicating. I know it’s something I bring up frequently, but that’s because it’s something most of us struggle with. You need to be sharing what goes on in your day, how you’re feeling, your emotions, your dreams, your fears, things you need your partner’s input/effort/time/support on, and your appreciation for your partner and what they do. No, you don’t have to have super deep conversations every day but you should have them at the very least once a month (probably closer to weekly).

As important as communication is, it goes hand in hand with another very important thing: responsibility. It’s up to you as an adult to take responsibility for the things in your life that need doing. Don’t wait for your partner to tell you to do something or seek out constant affirmation and appreciation on the job you did. As I said there are things you should be doing or at least discussing with your partner, but many things in our daily lives don’t need that discussion, it just needs to be done for the house, kids, your partner or yourself.

This week I encourage you to look into the communications and responsibilities of your relationship and commit to doing better.

Yes and No in Business

I’m a big supporter of doing joint venture opportunities and giving your customers and everyone the most help possible. It’s great when you can share a resource you trust with a friend or client, they know that they’re getting something that you’ve checked out and so they have a little more confidence in deciding to get to know them. But when was the last time you said “no” in your business? I recently had a joint venture opportunity but when I went to check out their site and see what I would be partnering with I didn’t like what I found so I passed on the opportunity. Yes business is about making money and helping people, but you have to be conscious of whether you’re making a connection just to make the connection or if it’s really a good opportunity for you (or is going to reflect well on you and your business or not).

Yes, I did feel kind of guilty passing up what could be a great opportunity, and I know that other people did take advantage of the opportunity to partner with him. But as a business owner you have to have standards when it comes to your business and your customers. It’s about more than just having a set of rules or company handbook that talks about the polished information you’re “supposed” to say. It’s about doing what feels right for you, working with suppliers and people who believe in providing the same kind of experience you do, and have more or less the same outlook towards doing business as you do.

No, no business will ever be exactly what your business is or line up perfectly with your standards, but there’s a big difference between some compromises to make things work for everyone and sacrificing things that are really important to you and your customers. This week ahead I encourage you to take a look at what’s going on in your business and if it’s time to say no to some things. When you say no to things that don’t work well for you, you’re opening yourself up to things that do work well for you.